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Black Literature and the Democratic Spirit

[By Jerry Ward]

The
democratic spirit demands that all voices be heard and that all interests be
represented.  In the literary sector of
everyday life, the spirit can manifest itself as a risk-free membership plan
offered by an African American book club. 
If I join the club, I can get three books for “$3, plus shipping &
processing and applicable taxes.  I agree
to buy 4 more books in the next year.” 
If I want to be thrifty, my option is to buy 1 book now and “reduce my
commitment to 3 books in 1 year.”  I will
then be billed “an added $5.98, plus shipping & processing and applicable
taxes.”  Just do the math.

          

The
editor-in-chief of the club assures me I shall not regret joining “a powerhouse
of intelligent readers who know what they want and how to get it; great books
by today’s best African-American authors, deep discounts on the titles they
love, round-the-clock shopping from the comfort of home and easy home delivery.”  I assume the editor-in-chief is telling me
the truth.
           
I
am impressed with who the best African American authors are in such categories
as fantastic fiction, romantic reads, real lives, Christian living, Christian
reads, quality fiction, and self-help/personal development.  Among the best authors are E. N. Joy,  Bishop T. D. Jakes, Walter Mosley, Common
(with help from Adam Bradley), Shaquille O’Neal (with help from Jackie
MacMullan), Stephen Carter, Tananarive Due, Azarel,  N’Tyse, 
Alice Randall, Eric Jerome Dickey, Sapphire, and K’wan.  This partial list suggests that many of the
best authors are not taught in colleges . 
Are college literature courses in conflict with the democratic spirit?
           
Perhaps
I should join the club, discover what “scandalicious” means, and have my
ignorance erased by Power & Beauty,
the debut novel by the hip hop artist T. I. (Clifford Harris, Jr.)